It is an easy answer isn’t it – a kid falling through the cracks. They didn’t fit that criteria, or that criteria, and they somehow got missed. Or they refused this help, or this consequence, or they moved to a new school (or a new home…) and didn’t get followed up on. There is insufficient funds for government departments, schools get there hands tied, teacher can only do so much.
But why why why do we still have kids falling through these cracks?
I read this story in STUFF today about vulnerable children going hungry during the holidays as schools weren’t open to feed them and wanted to scream. Then I sobbed. This is one gap that schools can fill (for some, some of the time, I know we feed some kids at my school) and yet it can’t be there all of the time.
I am currently ‘processing’ my own personal disappointment (and bitterness I suppose, I can’t quite figure out exactly how I feel about it) around a student who has been ‘lost’. I doubt I will see them at school again, yet 8 weeks ago they were engaging in a conversation around what was needed to get university entry. I know the Dean is still bending over backwards to try and get them involved in school. I know there are other school people and outside agencies involved. I know this student made some poor choices and that there does need to be some action around those…..
I know this student has no internet access at home, so they won’t get emails, they won’t get work set online, they can’t access the learning. They won’t know I have sent some work because I feel so damn helpless to help even though I know they can’t check it. I worry they think no-one cares despite the fact that there have been multiple efforts…
I heard another student had a baby over the holidays. ‘Maybe it will be the making of her’ we said round the lunch table, hopeful (and some-what resigned). She ended up in a situation no-one should – she too fell through the cracks. What could we have done? we asked ourselves. What could we do now? Rightly or wrongly, I will contribute to a care package with some baby clothes and a hand knitted/crocheted something. Hopefully they will know that we at least cared.
When I think back to my first form class as my new school, 3 and a bit years ago, perhaps half are still in education. It was a challenging class, and not just because I was new to the school and had taught in a very different environment. That class really opened my eyes to how lucky many of us are. And yet, it was a mostly fun time, especially for terms 3 & 4 once I got it figured out that I just needed to like them and work on relationships and most of the rest would sort itself out. I remember how delighted I was when one of them casually mentioned in passing last year while I was on duty by the canteen that they had passed Level one NCEA. That whole it isn’t a big deal Miss, when it clearly was.
Some of that class have got jobs, and this really is a good option for most of them – although I think some have been ‘forced’ or coerced into work earlier than they might have chosen I guess due to family circumstances. I can’t help wonder if I knew then what I know now (mostly thanks to me trying to figure out how to engage them in education) would they have faired better? Or was it already too late? Or would I have engaged them more, but the outcome would still have been the same.
One kid falling through a crack is too many, and I question that if it is like this at my school (a very nice decile 7 school with pretty cool kids and community for the most part) is it like this everywhere? Is it worse? Why are we still not talking about it and closing the gaps creating these cracks for the kids to fall into to.
And how can I change this? What could I have done? What can I do now? What needs to be done?
For now I am angry. Angry that this is happening to kids I care about. Kids that deserved more. Kids that made some dumb choices, but then doesn’t everyone….???
Why are there still cracks for people to fall into?